What do you want to learn more about?
Although I have a pretty full schedule, I try to make as much time for reading as possible, even if that means listening to an audiobook while doing other things!
Books are a fantastic doorway into other perspectives, ideas, and experiences. They can help us better understand the challenges and mindsets of those around us. When working with migrants, as we do, it’s easy to think we don’t need to look to other sources to build our understanding – after all, we’re working with these clients every day, right?
But I believe that reading multiple perspectives can help remind us that the clients are unique and multi-faceted. Any resource that enables us to stay curious about and open to whoever might walk through our door is a good one in my book (pun unintended!).
So, for something a little different, I thought it might be helpful to put together a short list of books specifically for PRIDE month that centers on the perspective of LGBTQIA+ migrants.
I hope you also see this as a helpful resource to refer to as part of your ongoing professional and personal development!
5 Non-Fiction Books to Read this PRIDE Month
For ease, I separated this list into non-fiction and fiction books. I know not everything is everyone’s preference, but I hope there will be at least one book for everyone on this list to take something away from.
1. Fairest by Meredith Talusan
Fairest is Meredith Talusan’s memoir about being a boy with albinism – a “sun child” – from a rural Philippine village who will grow up to become a woman in America.
Throughout her journey, Talusan reflects on their lived experiences throughout her journey and shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love. Her evocative reflections help shift our perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.
2. We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
A memoir of hope, faith, and love, Samra Habib’s story starts with growing up as part of a threatened minority sect in Pakistan and follows their arrival in Canada as a refugee before escaping an arranged marriage at sixteen. When they realized they were queer, it became yet another way they felt like an outsider.
A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s most authentic self.
3. A Visible Man by Edward Enninful
When Edward Enninful became the first Black editor-in-chief of British Vogue, few in the fashion world wanted to confront how it failed to represent the world we live in. But Edward, a champion of inclusion throughout his life, rapidly changed that.
A Visible Man traces an astonishing journey into one of the world’s most exclusive industries as Edward shares an incredibly unique and empowering perspective on how, as a Black, gay, working-class refugee, he found in fashion not only a home but the freedom to share with people the world as he saw it.
4. Dear Senthuran by Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi is a Nigerian fiction writer who now lives in New York, best known for their novels Freshwater, Pet, and their New York Times bestselling novel The Death of Vivek Oji – all of which handle the subject matter of family, faith, and gender identity.
In their provocative memoir in letters, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Electrifying and inspiring, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival.
5. Finding Latinx by Paola Ramos
From Afro-Latinos to Trans-Latinos, border town Latinos to the young Cuban-Americans in Miami–this book will give life to the term ‘Latinx.’
A vital and inspiring work of reportage, Finding Latinx calls on all of us to expand our understanding of what it means to be American. The first step towards change, writes Ramos, is for us to recognize who we are.
5 Fiction Books to Read this PRIDE Month
1. Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez
Rainbow Milk is a revelatory intersectional novel that combines two narratives.
In the 1950s, Jamaican ex-boxer Norman Alonso moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient but aware they’ll need more than hope to survive. At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London, escaping a broken family and a repressive religious community.
Rainbow Milk is a bold exploration of race, class, sexuality, freedom, and religion across generations, times, and cultures.
2. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Last Night at the Telegraph Club is one of Malinda Lo’s most personal and ambitious novels to date, following seventeen-year-old Lily as she grapples with her racial and sexual identity when both are considered dangerous for her.
Set in America in 1954, Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father despite his hard-won citizenship Lily risks everything to let love see the light of day.
3. Vagabonds! by Eloghosa Osunde
In Nigeria, vagabonds are people whose existence is outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose, and rogue spirits.
Eloghosa Osunde’s inventive novel traces an array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance. As their lives intertwine, vagabonds are seized and challenged by spirits who command the city’s dark energy. Blending unvarnished realism with myth and fantasy, Vagabonds! is an inspiring work of imagination that takes us deep inside the hearts, minds, and bodies of a people in duress and triumph.
4. The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
The Grief Keeper follows Marisol, an immigrant from El Salvador, applying for asylum in the United States with her younger sister Gabby. When her asylum request gets turned down, she’s allowed to stay in the U.S. but through unusual means. She is required to literally take on the grief of another girl.
The Grief Keeper is an imaginative but tender tale exploring the heartbreak and consequences of when love and human beings are branded illegal. It’s also a vital narrative for the ways immigrants are too often devalued and discarded.
5. All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews
Sneha has graduated from university and moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner and send money to her parents back in India.
But before long, trouble arrives as secrets rear their heads, jobs go off the rails, and evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be genuinely close with anyone, even as her friendships deepen, and she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance.
In this brilliant narrative, All This Could Be Different showcases the challenges of young immigrants living away from their families, cultural isolation, and what it takes to create a life on your own.
I’d love to hear from you on this; have there been any stand-out books you’ve read that have helped you develop your understanding of migrant perspectives across the spectrum?
They don’t even have to be books – if you’ve listened to a great podcast or read an interesting article, I’d want to hear about it. Feel free to drop me an email directly or leave a comment on this post.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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